About the Artists/Uweza Foundation
We work in the Kibera slum, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, home to over 500,000 people living in extreme poverty, more than half under age 18. In addition to poor housing, residents lack toilets and access to running water, proper sanitation and quality healthcare.
Focused on meeting their basic needs, with inadequate resources and support, many smart, talented young people end up engaging in harmful behaviors and activities that have the potential to negatively alter their entire lives.
Uweza recognizes that Kibera residents are creative, resilient and resourceful and that sustainable change requires a future generation that is more educated, motivated and empowered.
Founded in 2008, today we provide 300-400 Kenyan children and youth with unique opportunities to pursue a path to a better future through the discovery and development of their talents and abilities – gaining education and ultimately earning incomes that utilize their own inherent strengths.
We seek and nurture long-term relationships with individual children and youth to have a more lasting and impactful effect, versus a short-term emergency response to young peoples’ needs.
All 12 of our staff live in Kibera. We know the community well, and we work out of the Uweza Community Center, which opened in 2011. We developed our programs in response to needs expressed by Kibera community members, and our work evolves in response to both formal and informal feedback collected from program participants and their parents/guardians.
We achieve a lot with a very small budget (approximately $150,000) and an American board of directors, both of which we are looking to grow.
There are no opportunities for creative expression or development of artistic talent in most Kenyan schools, and opportunities to participate in art for Kibera children and youth are extremely limited, despite a plethora of artistic talent. The Uweza Art Gallery opened in 2013 to provide art students with their own space and materials to paint and market their artwork, which is sold online, at the gallery, and through events and exhibitions. As of 2018, the gallery is currently self-sustaining through sales of artwork. Several of the artists have been able to pay the entirety of their primary, high school and post-secondary education through the sales of their artwork, and many of the older artists are able to fully support themselves through their sales. Uweza Art Gallery also hosts art classes for children from Kibera twice a week.